300th Anniversary of
Broadmead Church – Now Hanham Baptist
Prayer in England brought the Toleration Act
Pastor George Fownes proposed that the congregation seriously consider the steps that should be taken if the services were interrupted by law officers. On August 03, 1680, they determined to continue their services unless the magistrate himself used violence. This tactic worked well until Dec. 18, 1681, when the civil, ecclesiastical, and military powers invaded the house of God on the Lord’s Day and Pastor Fownes was sent to prison at Newgate. After six weeks in jail, he appeared before the judge and was acquitted due to a flaw in the warrant. Returning to his flock, for safety’s sake, they began holding services in the fields rather than in their church building, regardless of the weather. In March of 1682 Pastor Fownes was arrested again and committed to Glouchester Jail for six months. His persecutors declared that he would not leave the jail alive. The pastor served as his own attorney and the jury returned a verdict of “not guilty”, but he was returned to the prison in spite of the verdict. When his six months were ended he demanded his freedom and a bond was demanded of him and the promise to stop preaching. He requested a judicial inquest. Two justices appeared before the judge and said that if he was released “he would draw all the country after him.” He was held for two more years in prison until the Lord in mercy released him in death in Dec. of 1685. After the Act of Toleration, the Broadmead Baptist Church, in Bristol, England finally knew peace, and Pastor Fowne’s son, George Fownes, became pastor in 1693. In 1695 “the church built a new meeting house 50 feet long by 40 feet, with no debt.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 318-19.
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Lutherans also persecuted Baptists
1527 – BAPTISTS WERE PERSECUTED BY BOTH THE CATHOLICS AND PROTESTANTS IN THE 16TH CENTURY – George Wagner of Emmerick (Germany) was burned in the city of Munich on February 8, 1527. As he went to the flames being led by his executioner to the middle of the city, he cried, “Today I will confess my God before all the world.” He experienced such joy in the Lord that he showed no fear but went smiling to the fire! When thrown into the flames, he cried with a loud voice, “Jesus! Jesus!” And thus he died bearing witness to the truth as it is in the Lord Jesus. The sheriff, Eisenreich von Landsberg, fully expecting to arrest others of this same faith to cast them to the same fate was dead in his bed the next morning. Most of the time, during the Middle Ages, the persecutors of the Baptists were the Catholics but in this instance they were the Lutherans after they came into power and became the state church. The historian Joseph Myer put it this way, “In the days of the long ago, Roman Catholic and Protestant leaders harbored a strong dislike for one another, but they harmonized in persecuting the people of the Baptist faith and practice.” It reminds us that Pilate and Herod made friends together because of Jesus. Lu 23:12 – And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 53.
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The well from which Williams drank
1641 – Samuel Howe died after being imprisoned and bitterly persecuted. No doubt Howe is from where Roger Williams lit his torch of “soul liberty”. Howe pastored the church in “Deadmans Place London for seven years and made no small stir in the religious circle of his day. His followers admitted that “they owned no other head of the church than Jesus Christ.” Williams spoke in glowing terms of Howe in The Hierling Ministry, “I cannot but with honorable testimony remember the eminently Christian witness of and prophet of Christ, even that despised and yet beloved Samuel Howe, who, being by calling a cobbler…yet…by searching the scriptures, grew so excellent a textuary, or scripture learned man, that few of those high rabbis…could apply or readily from the scriptures outgo him.” At Howe’s death the state church officials refused his burial in the “consecrated ground” and even posted a guard at Shoreditch, the parish cemetery. The Man of God was buried at Agnes-La-Clair and according to Roger Williams, “hundreds of God’s people attended the service.” Thank God for these wonderful men who had their feet on the ground, and their hearts in heaven.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon; adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 23-25.
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Baptists come to Denmark
1867 – A new Baptist church edifice was dedicated to the Glory of God in Copenhagen, Denmark, to meet the need of the four hundred members, of what had been a severely persecuted people. Their pastor Julius Kobner, a converted Jew, had come from Germany to give leadership to the Baptists of Denmark who had merged from the persecution after Denmark had made persecution unlawful in 1849. At the beginning of the 19th Century Satan had used the State church and a spirit of nationalism to hinder the gospel, but a spiritual stirring began, including a powerful preacher of the gospel. Kobner made a visit and found a group who had become disenchanted with the doctrine of infant baptism. Kobner maintained correspondence with them. Johann Gerhard Oncken of Germany and Kobner in Oct. of 1839, traveled to Copenhagen, baptized 11 and formed the First Danish Baptist Church. One of their own, a Brother Monster took the leadership and another ten were baptized. Bro. Monster was then imprisoned. Another church was established at Aalborg (Jutland), and then a storm of persecution broke out. Both the Monster brothers were imprisoned again after many more were baptized. In 1841 the British Baptists sent a delegation and presented a petition to the King on behalf of their persecuted Brethren to no avail. But God prevailed with nine Baptist churches by 1867. [J. H. Rushbrooke, The History of American Baptist Missions in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America (Boston: Gould, Kendall and Lincoln, 1850), pp. 233-34. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. 561-62] Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon
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A Dull Scholar in Christ’s School
1751 – Rev. Isaac Backus, one of the outstanding pastors of a Separate (Conservative Congregational) Church at Middlebourgh, Massachusetts was baptized by Rev. Benjamin Pierce. This was at a time when the Baptists (only fifty churches total in America) being small in number, were also divided and persecuted. Backus would later write, “After renewing grace was granted, I was such a dull scholar in Christ’s school, that I was thirty-two years in learning a lesson of only six words, namely, ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism.’ It took ten years to get clear of the custom of putting baptism before faith [his Congregational experience] and near five more to learn not to contradict the same in practice [his Separate experience] after which, above seventeen trying years…before we could refrain from an implicit acknowledgment of more than ‘one Lord’ in religious affairs” [the embracing of the church/state as an overlord]. His joining the Baptists was not prompted by prominence, popularity or pedigree but out of conviction. [Robert C. Newman, Baptists and the American Tradition (Des Plaines, Ill.: Regular Baptist Press. 1076, p. 32. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 459-460.] Prepared by Dr. Greg Dixon
She Kindled the Fires to Burn the Anabaptists
Hendrick Terwoort was not an English subject but a Fleming by birth and of a fine mind. Persecuted in his own land for his love for Christ, he fled and asked protection of the Protestant Queen Elizabeth, the head of the English Church. Terwoort ultimately discovered that he had misplaced his confidence, for Elizabeth had him roasted alive at Smithfield, June 22, 1575. While in prison, Terwoort wrote a confession of faith that rejected infant baptism and held that a Christian should not make an oath or bear arms, that Anabaptists “believe and confess that magistrates are set and ordained of God, to punish the evil and protect the good,” that they pray for them and are subject to them in every good work, and that they revere the “gracious queen” as a sovereign. He sent a copy to Elizabeth, but her heart was set against him. At the age of twenty-five, Terwoort was put to death because he would not make his conscience Elizabeth’s footstool.
Terwoort was not a singular case. Bishop Jewel complained of a “large and unauspicious crop of Anabaptists” in Elizabeth’s reign. She not only ordered them out of her kingdom, but in good earnest, kindled the fires to burn them. Baptists were hated by the bishops, who falsely accused them of having no reverence for authority, seeking to overthrow government, being full of pride and contempt, being entirely interested in being schismatic, and desiring to be free from all laws. They were considered great hypocrites, feigning holiness of life.
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. (Thompson/Cummins) pp. 255-256.
Life is the Time to Serve the Lord
James Greenwood certainly fulfilled the qualifications of a bishop and steward in being blameless and faithful until his death on April 15, 1815. Notwithstanding his excellent character did not keep him from being persecuted along with his other brethren in their service to the Lord.
Semple tells us that “in August 1772, James Greenwood and William Loval were preaching not far from the place where Bruington Meeting House now stands, in the county of King and Queen, when they were seized and, by virtue of a warrant, immediately conveyed to prison.”
Before the constitution of the Bruington Church the Baptists of the neighborhood met in a local barn. Later an arbor was erected where they might meet. It was here while James Greenwood and William Loval were preaching that they were arrested, and were conveyed to the King and Queen county jail. While being led to the jail they began to sing: “Life is the time to serve the Lord” and they gave notice that they would preach the next Lord’s Day from the jail windows.
The hymn that Greenwood and Loval sang challenges the Christian of today to use the time that God has given him or her to accomplish the work of Christ regardless of the hardships of this life. The hymn that they sang was written by Isaac Watts and may be found in The Baptist Hymnal of 1883 Edited by William H. Doane and E. H. Johnson.
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 153-154.
76 – March 17 Baptists and the Land of the Free
What an important date March 17, 1644, is for American freedom. It was on that date that Roger Williams obtained a free and absolute charter, entitled “The Incorporation of Providence Plantation, in the Narragansett Bay, in New-England.” The influence of our godly Baptist forefathers created in Rhode Island the only one of the thirteen original colonies that featured total religious freedom! Nine of the thirteen colonies maintained a State church, and others such as Pennsylvania and Maryland offered partial religious freedom, but only Rhode Island granted complete religious liberty. Though Baptists have been persecuted by many wherever they have existed, they have never persecuted others. When laying the cornerstone of the great Metropolitan Tabernacle I London, Mr. Spurgeon stated: “Persecuted alike by Romanists and Protestants of almost every sect, yet there has never existed a Government holding Baptist principles which persecuted others; nor, I believe, any body of Baptists ever held it to be right to put the consciences of others under the control of man. We have ever been ready to suffer, as our martyrologies will prove, but we are not ready to accept any help from the State, to prostitute the purity of the Bride of Christ to any alliance with Government, and we will never make the Church, although the Queen, the despot over the consciences of men.” Historically Baptists have always held to the principle of voluntarism, and as a result, they would rather provide total religious freedom than to dictate the religious persuasion of another. Baptists have ever championed a free church in a free state. Unfortunately today the Baptists reach out their hands to readily join with the state and are no longer the free people our forefathers fought and died for, “Soul Liberty.”
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: “This Day in Baptist History III” David L. Cummins. pp. 157 – 158
A House For A Church
From nearly the beginning of the Massachusetts Colony until 1769, the Baptists had been persecuted in various ways in the city of Boston and, indeed, throughout the entire colony. An infant church was first organized in Charlestown near Cambridge. Thomas Gould became its pastor. He and his members paid dearly. They lost the right to vote, were fined and imprisoned, and were threatened with banishment. Gould was brought before both the secular courts and the church courts and charged with Anabaptism. This Baptist church came into existence under the influence of Henry Dunster, the first president of Harvard College, who had adopted baptistic principles. The church moved from Charlestown to Noddle’s Island and then dared to enter Boston sometime after Gould’s death in 1675. John Russell became the new pastor. Philip Squire and Ellis Callender built a small meetinghouse. This building was so plain that it did not attract the attention of the Boston authorities until it was completed and the church began to use it for worship on February 15, 1679. On March 8, 1680, the marshal was ordered to nail the doors, which he did, posting the following notice on the door: “All persons are to take notice that, by order of the Court, the doors of this house are shut up, and that they are inhibited to hold any meetings therein, or to open the doors thereof, without license from authority, till the Court take further order, as they will answer the contrary to their peril.” In May, they came to the property to find the doors open! They went in boldly and held their services in their own building. For nearly 70 years this was the only Baptist church in Boston.
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins) pp. 93-94